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FBI looking at airport argument

A federal law enforcement agency is investigating a recent incident in which a pilot reportedly was threatened by an elected official at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport.

Although the FBI has not confirmed that they are involved, The McDuffie Mirror has learned that an FBI special agent from the Augusta office questioned the airport manager and an employee a little more than two weeks ago. FBI Supervisory Agent Anthony Russo has not returned telephone calls.

Keith Bounds, who owns Spirit Aviation Inc. and manages the airport, said an agent talked with him and employee Jim Blackmon for about an hour and a half. The majority of the questions pertained to an incident involving McDuffie County Commissioner Paul McCorkle and his brother, Sammy McCorkle, last month.

Paul McCorkle explained that a jet flew "very low" over his mother's home off Wrightsboro Road and that it scared him, family members and friends.

The commissioner said he called the airport to obtain the numbers of the aircraft but was told such information couldn't be released. He said he and his brother drove to the airport.

Paul McCorkle, according to witnesses, banged on the side of the aircraft with his fists until he got the pilot's attention. The two men had words.

Mr. Bounds said based on what he heard from the FBI agent, he believes that the bureau is interested in finding out whether there was any interference with an aircraft.

The FBI has not interviewed either of the McCorkle brothers, according to Paul McCorkle. The two were taken to McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center for questioning by Investigator Larry Adaway. Neither was arrested or charged with any crime.

Web posted on Thursday, August 13, 2009

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